Wide, Lush, Sharp, Bright
When I was eleven I wrote a novella. It was seventy-eight terrible (and handwritten!) pages, but it was made with intention and without fear, and it was mine.
Writing for fun in fifth and sixth grade, or doing anything smart or interesting as a girl, pretty much guaranteed that I was going to be a social pariah. This was okay with me. (I admit this only after much discussion with my therapist.) Even then, writing was the most important thing to me, and if it meant that I didn’t have friends, that was fine. I had entire worlds stashed away in my head that were all mine, wide, lush, sharp, bright. Secretly, I was the luckiest.
I still feel this way—lucky to have my brain—but I know some things now that I didn’t know then.
For me, writing requires some strange combination of aloneness, chatter, and ambient noise, and often people are hard to fit into that equation. But, I need other writers. I need to know that there are others who feel the way I do about words, who understand what Maya Angelou means when she says, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Truthfully, I always needed other writers. As you know if you’re a writer, letting people into your brain is kind of like letting someone see you naked: Just…be careful. Not everyone deserves it. Finding the like minded is an unbelievable gift. Finding those who understand what it’s like to have a universe in your head, or to need a pen all the time, or what it is like when you read a perfect sentence, is what keeps a writer from going crazy.
I need other writers because when I talk about my work out loud, it gets bigger and clearer. I see what’s there. Writers are (fine, I am) a cranky, unpredictable lot. Finding us can be hard; getting us together can be even harder. Sometimes it’s a matter of luck, so if you think you might be onto something, I would recommend jumping on it immediately. It’s not often that an opportunity comes along like the Rising Voices Fellowship that’s serious about cultivating writers and community. The right company makes a difference. I promise.